Roadtrip to the West - Chiricahua National Monument

Roadtrip to the West (New Mexico - Arizona)

Part 4

(Chiricahua National Monument - Hiking the Echo Canyon Loop)

Day 7:

On the drive to Chiricahua National Monument, we were looking forward to a special adventure, which should reward us for the somewhat boring drive along interstate 10. When we left the interstate at Wilcox, a rather repulsive desert town, to continue on State Highway 186 through the desolate steppe, we could hardly guess what a great leg of our journey in southern Arizona should await us.

Late in the evening, we arrived at Chiricahua National Monument, where we thankfully had pre-booked at Bonita Canyon Campground. This is the popular state park campground located directly at the monument. We were lucky to get the last site for the night and had little trouble finding our assigned site at nightfall. When we finally settled down on the wooded site and had just prepared dinner, we got an unexpected visitor. The campsite host stopped by to greet us, and with a friendly chat, we were able to get valuable tips for the next day.

After the long drive through New Mexico and Arizona, we finally had a very good night in the RV and hardly noticed that it had started to snow lightly around midnight. In the morning we woke up to cool weather and were very surprised to see the landscape lightly covered with snow. Our host recommended starting up early to avoid the crowd at the parking lot. The plan was to do the "Echo Canyon Loop Hike", which should be amazing.

We broke camp as early as 06:00 in the morning and had to drive about 20 minutes to the top of the mountain where our trail begins. Due to the newly fallen snow, however, there were only a few hikers on the trail, and we were actually the first to leave our tracks on the trail.

At first, it was still quite chilly and the trail slightly icy, but the more the sun ventured out from behind the peaks, the more the ground thawed and it became warmer on the trail as well. The small onset of winter at night transformed the already beautiful landscape into an amazing wonderland and we only now realized how lucky we were with this weather to the point.

At first, the way led us through the sugar-covered hoodoos always along the mountain ridge. Behind every bend a new breathtaking view awaited us and we could not get out of the amazement. Finally, the landscape changed and gentle switchbacks brought us into the deeper regions of the canyon.

We were now already about 2.5 hours on the way and enjoyed the breathtaking scenery. But after more than half of the loop it was now time for our break. We wanted to consume the sandwiches and drinks we had brought with us. Where was it the best place, if not at one of the viewpoints overlooking the canyon?

If it was so far mostly downhill into the canyon, we now faced the much more strenuous part of the hike, back to the parking lot. First made us, well rested the ascent no trouble, but it was increasingly strenuous and the rising temperatures during the day also contributed to this. Nevertheless, we still enjoyed the hike, but in the end, were glad to be back in our van.

Satisfied and after over 4 miles, this hike is one of our favorites so far. The snow and the later clearing weather make this loop something special. In the end, all that was left was to make a final quick stop at the Chiricahua National Monument sign on our way down the valley before heading out for the next leg of the trip and our next destination, which was Saguaro National Park near Tucson.